Tone Empire’s Neural Q Saturation Plugin Is FREE For A Limited Time


Tone Empire offers the Neural Q ($49 value) saturation plugin as a FREE download for a limited time.

Neural Q is an AI/Neural Network-based EQ and saturation plugin from Tone Empire. The plugin usually costs $49, but it is available for free download until the 1st of May, 2022.

We are seeing developers take the AI route more and more these days. Whether it’s an online service like LALAL.AI or a tape machine emulation like Baby Audio’s TAIP, it seems to be a trending method.

Many people would say that the AI route can produce the most accurate analog hardware emulation, which we have here with Neural Q.

The two sides to the plugin are the analog-sounding EQ and the Pre-amp section.

According to Tone Empire, the plugin faithfully captures the sound of a well-known vintage German EQ. It would seem that the EQ is based on the Hi/Lo bands of the Siemens W295b. It’s not the most difficult to source vintage EQ, but they don’t come cheap.

The Hi and Lo Bands boost their respective frequencies in the shape of the original hardware captured. Each has a range of -15 dB to + 15 dB.

The Pre-amp section offers three types of saturation: Clean, Medium, and Dirty. Like the EQ, this section is incredibly straightforward with just a few knobs and a Drive On/Off (Bypass) button.

With any AI plugin, the authenticity rests largely on how extensive the model training is. The more data the system has as reference points, the more accurate it should be. The developers trained the system with a large volume and wide variety of sources, from vocals to solo instruments and ensembles.

In creating Neural Q, Tone Empire suggests that Circuit Modeling is a dead technology and can’t recreate the behavior of analog gear like RNN (Recurrent Neural Networks) can.

That’s where others fail most often. It’s one thing to create a blanket sound close to the hardware; it’s another to make something that interacts with your performance and everything else around it like vintage hardware does.

Sadly, as with most expensive vintage hardware, I don’t own a Siemens W295b. But, what I’m hearing and reading so far tells me that users are very impressed with the character and behavior of Neural Q. One slight potential difference is that some think the bottom end is a touch darker with the plugin.

If you want to add some weight to your bottom end, analog sheen to the highs, and drive till the wheels fall off, this one looks fun.

I grabbed Tone Empire’s Loc-Ness while on sale last year, and I like it. So, I’m pretty excited for Neural Q.

Available in VST3, AU, and AAX formats for macOS and Windows. Only 64-bit plugin hosts are supported. Compatible with macOS 10.13 or later and Windows 10 onwards.

M1 Mac users on Logic Pro 10.7.2 and above or Ableton 11.1 should use the OSX-M1 installer.

Download: Neural Q (FREE until May 1st, 2022)


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James is a musician and writer from Scotland. An avid synth fan, sound designer, and coffee drinker. Sometimes found wandering around Europe with an MPC in hand.


  1. Got it, tried it. It’s extremely heavy on CPU. Just by adding it to a channel in Ableton Live, it goes from 0 to 20% CPU usage without even playing the project.

    • Hey Luiz, I read your comment, and it reminded me that I meant to mention the CPU usage in the article! Thank you! Yeah, it’s pretty heavy.

    • Hey Purefire,

      I appreciate the feedback, as always. I mean, generally, I’m just sharing news, but, if I can ever add anything I will.

      Also, I’ll typically reference 80s movies whenever possible, which isn’t helpful at all, but I’ll still do it!


  2. The plug appears to be stuck in 8 x oversampling mode. In Tracktion Waveform I can toggle an oversampling parameter that does not show up in the plug’s GUI, yet none of the settings change the CPU load. I’ve submitted a support ticket to Tone Empire. Will report back if there’s a helpful response.

  3. Johannes Mazur


    Hi James, I’m one of those who were lucky enough to have heard and used the W295b. I was kind of surprised that there have been so few emulations of that gem. (yes, I own the Soundtoys Sie-Q and Arturia’s Sitral, but they are somehow a little off, I’m going to explain why in a minute)

    • Johannes Mazur


      Dammit, posted my incomplete comment accidentally.
      Anyway, THIS one is really, really close! I highly recommend it!

      There is something about the W295b that actually made it famous: Its fantastic treble band. You could boost the highs and still wouldn’t hear an EQ working its ass off, it rather would “open up” the mix (for the lack of a better description). If you’d have that Wow-experience with the plugin then the devs made a good job. Unfortunately, both Soundtoys and Arturia didn’t manage to get there. They made really good plugins, don’t get me wrong, but there was that invisible magic missing…
      This, however, is the first one that captured exactly that. Amazing.
      Concerning the CPU consumption: Yes it is heavy. That doesn’t bother me at all; I had a Sitral Broadcast console which featured two W295a and two 295b. There wasn’t a large flagship console like a Neve or SSL as it was developed for broadcasting – not for music production. Music studios adopted it later due to its sonic qualities. What does that has to do with its CPU consumption? Well, use it like the real deal – on the mix bus or just for groups. 2 to 4 instances should be enough. And in case you need more, the sound is so good you can savely print it :-)

        • Hi Johannes,

          Fantastic comment, thank you! It’s great to hear your insight on the real thing, and also great to hear that you think Neural Q gets so close.

          You make a good point about the W295b being developed for broadcast use; I guess as soon as something is in plugin form, the temptation to overuse it is there, and CPU usage becomes more of an issue (sometimes self-inflicted). Of course, it depends on your system, and some seem to be struggling with basic application of Neural Q.

          I’m a fan of Arturia plugins, but haven’t yet upgraded to the FX Collection 2, so I don’t have Sitral.

          I’m sure the W295b is an unsung hero on many projects, and now I’m looking forward (even more) to putting Neural Q to good use!


          • Johannes Mazur


            Arturia makes great plugins, and their Sitral is definitely a good one. When you get the FX-Collection 2, compare the Sitral with the NeuralQ. There is something about the NeuralQ that just sets it a wee bit apart, even though the Arturia Sitral is a marvellous EQ :-)

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